June is not just a time for Steven Cano to express who he is, but a chance to educate his community about LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Cano, who identifies as a Latino gay man, is the main organizer of RGV Pridea Harlingen-based organization that hosts an annual LGBTQ+ family event designed to celebrate Pride Month.
Founded in 2013, RGV Pride is known for hosting one of the very first pride events in the Rio Grande Valley. What started as a much smaller event, with 400 attendees, now attracts thousands of people each year from across the region.
But while living in a predominantly Latino and Catholic community, Cano recognizes that there is still a lot of room for improvement in her community when it comes to public perception on LGBTQ issues.
“There’s so much culture, there’s so much history, but there’s still so much change and progress to be made,” Cano said. “So when celebrating Pride, it’s all about that for me, continuing to educate our community about acceptance, awareness and overall inclusivity.”
Cano says it’s disheartening to see elected officials attacking LGBTQ rights, transgender people, and women’s reproductive health and rights. He said it was especially hard when he learned that State Rep. Bryan Slaton announced he would introduce a bill with the legislature banning children from attending drag shows.
“We prohibit children from going to see creative art. We ban books. We forbid rhetoric. But we are not doing anything about a problem that is a persistent problem,” Cano said.
As an advocate for this community, Cano says the more conversations people have about LGBTQ+ issues, the more likely they are to realize that they have more in common with the LGBTQ+ community than they have differences.
“It’s about continuing to educate ourselves. It’s about continuing to defend yourself. And above all, love is love,” Cano said.